Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Tell Me a Secret
  • Alternative view 1 of Tell Me a Secret
  • Alternative view 2 of Tell Me a Secret

Tell Me a Secret

4.3 18
by Holly Cupala

See All Formats & Editions

It's tough living in the shadow of a dead girl. . . .

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda's death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister's world, a ticket to art school, and a


It's tough living in the shadow of a dead girl. . . .

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda's death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister's world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

When two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears, Miranda is stripped of her former life. She must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister's demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in Seattle, Cupala's first novel is a cinematic and realistic story concerning high school senior Miranda "Rand" Mathison. It has been five years since the death of her wild older sister, Xanda, and while Rand attempts to set her sights on the future (art school in Boston, her boyfriend) the past keeps pulling her back. "I was left to wonder, what role did Xanda fill that I could not? What secret did she keep? And what path could I take to find it?" When Rand becomes pregnant, her dramatic, controlling mother forces her to choose between considering adoption and starting a work-study program at a bank (which would mean giving up a career in art). Her friends and boyfriend desert her, yet Rand is strong, stubborn, and determined to keep the baby as a way of reconnecting to her sister's spirit. Readers follow Rand's daily struggles through taut, first-person narration, as Cupala skillfully weaves Rand's memories with present action. The sheer number of problematic pregnancies, fraught friendships, and family troubles can make the story feel melodramatic, but Rand is a consistently empathetic heroine. Ages 14-up. (July)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Holly Cupala’s debut novel will be immensely popular among teens. Teen fans will be captivated by the theme of owning your own path, the persistence of life and closure.”
ALA Booklist
“Heartbreaking and hopeful. . . .Teens will be held by the fresh take on the teen-pregnancy plot.”
Ellen Hopkins
“A powerful story of self-discovery, and a brilliant debut novel.”
Deb Caletti
“Tell Me a Secret is a gripping, emotional story about a young girl with a tragic past and an uncertain future. I dare you to set it down during its last hundred pages. I dare you.”
VOYA - Ann Crewdson
Some secrets are best left untold and others need to be exposed, especially if it involves a labyrinth of lies. When Miranda (Rand) was twelve, her sister Xanda died with her shady boyfriend at the wheel. Subversive and daring, her sister was her opposite, but her role model. After Xanda's death, Miranda escapes by drawing labyrinths as an artistic outlet. She meets Kamran—earthy, dark and handsome—who shares similar interests. When Delaney, the dangerously cool new girl, befriends her, Xanda unknowingly puts her boyfriend within arm's reach. Bad luck follows, including losing her best friend, becoming pregnant and enduring town gossip. Miranda resigns to a tortuous path of self-pity, turning to the online BabyCenter to perpetuate her fantasy. Her stubborn resolve to remain misunderstood comes to a climactic end when Kamran witnesses Delaney's icy nature, followed by drama. The need to assign blame, however, forces her to turn people away until a caring adult teaches her the life skills she needs to cope. Holly Cupala's debut novel about a pregnant seventeen-year-old will be immensely popular among teens. Miranda wanting redemption through her pregnancy is troubling at first, but then the plot twists to reveal underlying factors. Teen fans of Sandra Novak's Precious (Random House, 2009) will be captivated by the theme of owning your own path, the persistence of life and closure. Reviewer: Ann Crewdson
Evelyn Baldwin
Miranda Mathison's life is built on secrets. Since the death of her sister Xanda, her family has become separated and withdrawn, each holding beliefs about what really happened the night of the car crash. But Miranda's got a secret of her own: she's pregnant. Without the support of her angry mother and absent father, Miranda has to make an impossible choice. When her best friends desert her, Miranda turns to the only place she can find help—her own secret support system, where no one is as they seem. Tell Me a Secret, the breakout novel by Holly Cupala, takes an honest and unflinching look at the world of teen pregnancy. She faithfully details the pain, frustration, and fear that accompanies Miranda as she struggles alone to make decisions about her world, even as her boyfriend and parents abandon her. Reviewer: Evelyn Baldwin
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—As school begins, 17-year-old Rand knows that she is pregnant. She wants to tell her boyfriend, but after being away at camp all summer she doesn't feel as close to Kamran as she once did. Making matters worse, she is increasingly certain that he is dating her best friend behind her back. Because of this, Rand is all but cut off from her social group, and her controlling mother and emotionally absent father, still reeling from the death of their other daughter five years earlier, don't offer any emotional support either. When she decides to keep her baby, her parents force her to give up her dreams of art school to get a job. Just when everything seems like it couldn't possibly get any worse, Rand faces the dangerously early birth of her baby. In the end, she discovers not only who her true friends are, but also the truth about her sister's death. Along with a rekindled relationship with her parents, these facets of the story contribute to a somewhat resolved ending, though not much positive happens during this bleak novel. Even if other characters are not outright mean to her, almost no one treats Rand with any kindness. Some may appreciate Cupala's gritty realism, but others will find this overwrought book a real downer.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

What People are Saying About This

Deb Caletti
“Tell Me a Secret is a gripping, emotional story about a young girl with a tragic past and an uncertain future. I dare you to set it down during its last hundred pages. I dare you.”

Meet the Author

Holly Cupala is the author of Tell Me a Secret. When she isn’t writing or making art, she explores Seattle with her husband and daughter. A portion of her proceeds goes toward helping sexually exploited girls around the world.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Tell Me a Secret 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
A_Good_Addiction More than 1 year ago
Emotional, tumultuous and encapsulating, Tell Me A Secret will slip the reader into Rand 's world from the start. Cupala has an astounding ability to infuse emotion in even the most simplest of sentences, forming a very palpable bond between the reader and Rand. The overwhelming sense of loneliness, fear and confusion which penetrate much of this novel will pour into the reader. Pregnant at the start, Rand denies the possibility. Her thought processes and constant deals- if I haven't started by this event, then I'll take a test- strike the teenage mindset from the start. Rand 's intelligence comes across but the immaturity inherent with her age mingles comfortably with it. Her refusal to acknowledge certain situations and turning a blind eye to obvious clues also plays into not only her age but her character. Her reasons for doing things run years back and a large part of the story is Rand coming to terms with everything that's happened over those years. Through well placed flashbacks, smooth transitions between past and present, and striking scenes, not only is Rand's relationship with Kamram explained but her memories of her sister and the very rocky relationship between Xanda and their mother. Rand's own rebellion, anger, and hurt run deep, spilling out in unexpected places. With each new curve thrown at her, Rand matures a little more and her overall character development is phenomenally handled. Her resistance to some of the changes keeps the reader in the teenage mindset while still holding, overall, a more mature and knowledgeable tone. Rand's sense of fear and uncertainty is magnified by her home life, two parents who exist separately in the same house. Torn apart by Xanda's actions and death, Rand 's house has not provided much haven for her in years. Her mother is overbearing, controlling, and made from steel. Her father is quiet, shouldering far more guilt and burden than he deserves, and seemingly more lost than the mother. Cupala's bold, strong writing brings both parents to life and I found myself disliking them throughout much of the book. Though their own reasons could be understood, watching Rand 's struggles made it hard to empathize with them because they were watching it too. In that fact alone, Cupala showcases her writing talent- but she strengths it more when she brings sympathy to these characters at surprising but well placed times. Also notable, the darker side of Rand is portrayed, from her bullying ways to her harsh treatment to a former best friend but again, Cupala does not excuse or justify. She simply puts it on display, letting the reader make of it what they will rather than trying to force their opinion. A large part of this style comes from the events Rand is going through, some of which even women prepared for pregnancy never face. She is forced to grow up quickly and handles it as smoothly as possible. Cupala shows this development and change in mindset, allowing Rand to acknowledge things she's done while also having a new found ability to see an overall picture. The plot is a whirring one, prevalent on the emotional atmosphere and playing out a potent path that can happen with teenage pregnancy. Cupala very smoothly brings to the light the notion that a teen pregnancy impacts many people and the way those people handle it impact the pregnant girl.
Readinista More than 1 year ago
Teen pregnancy is never an easy issue to read about and Miranda¿s pregnancy in Tell Me a Secret is no exception. While Cupala accurately depicts the many challenges of teen pregnancy, she also weaves in an enthralling story that makes you want to keep reading. Five years ago, Miranda¿s older sister, Xanda, died in a tragic accident. Years after Xanda¿s death, Miranda continues to talk about her sister, think about what her sister would and wouldn¿t do, and compare her life to her sister¿s. Between Miranda¿s bad girl best friend and her cute boyfriend, she makes a decision that changes her life forever. Miranda learns she is pregnant and her world begins to unravel. As news gets out about her pregnancy, her classmates, friends, family, and even her boyfriend all look down on her and shut her out of their lives. Her pregnancy becomes the catalyst for resolving many years of problems with her friends and family. As her pregnancy progresses, she uncovers more about her family, the events of her sister¿s death, and ultimately herself. Miranda steps out from her sister¿s shadow and transforms into a strong, confident, and happy person. It was difficult to read about Miranda¿s friends and family turning against her during her pregnancy. I hated it but it is a very much the reality. So often teens are expected and pressured by their peers to be sexually active. Yet, when teenage girls actually become pregnant, they are looked down on, called sluts, and are considered outcasts. If girls do not engage in sexually activity, then they are also criticized, called prudes, and have a hard time finding and/or keeping boyfriends. With these two options to choose from, girls are destined to fail. This fact breaks my heart, and I hope that someday at least girls can give each other a break and be supportive no matter what decisions another girl makes. Tell Me a Secret does not imply or say what I just stated, but it did make me think about the issues behind teen pregnancies. With that said, I have a hard time rating this book. Reading about teen pregnancy is not something I want to do, but this book successfully portrayed the life of a troubled teen, while making me think about difficult issues. And because of that, I recommend this book to all teenagers and even older readers as everyone should understand what it is like to be in Miranda¿s shoes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A_Readers_Record More than 1 year ago
Holly Cupula really pushed the limits with Tell Me a Secret but it was in a realistic, tasteful way. This is one more of my reviews I will be keeping short and sweet, anything more could ruin it. Living in her dead sister's shadow isn't something anyone would want to do, least of all Rand. Not only did Xanda leave her little sister behind but she left behind two parents who were broken and unable, perhaps a little unwilling, to be the parents Rand needed. Despite the dysfunctional family dynamic, ultimately caused by Xanda's behavior and Rand's mother's judgmental ways, Rand lived in the past making moving on with her future, in any capacity difficult. There are many characters introduced to us in this book, each with their own personality and roll in Rand's downfall and comeback. A book where faith is not blind to all and the truth is found in many forms, Tell Me a Secret was eerily realistic in its execution, beautifully written, and a story which isn't sugar coated and no happily-ever-after is guaranteed. I didn't ever feel like I was simply reading Tell Me a Secret, I felt like I was living it. Everyone one of Rand's crazy-overwhelming emotions, the betrayals against her, the uncertainty and the fear. Holly Cupula wielded a hauntingly, heart wrenching story that was meant to touch your heart in a way to make you be appreciative for what you have or have had and take everything else head on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
It's difficult to put into words how I feel about Tell Me a Secret. In a way, it is a great book. It's gripping and emotional; I read it in one sitting, completely unable to put it down. But in other ways, I hated it. I didn't hate the book as a whole, but I found it more than a little difficult to like almost any characters. Miranda, Mandy, Rand to most, is this selfish, self-centered, and immature high school senior who gets pregnant and then loses everything. Her sister Xanda died years ago and she has never really dealt with, never really moved on from it - constantly searching for ways to fill the void that Xanda left. Sometimes, I felt for her, I mourned for her loss and understood her behavior, but most of the time I couldn't understand her problem; how she couldn't see the poison that was her 'friend' Delaney and how her own actions could only be construed as selfish. Sure, her family isn't perfect, her mom seems more than a little crazy, but Rand does so many things that I just couldn't get behind, and she blinds herself to the world around her, ignoring everything and only seeing what she wants to see. And most of the characters were these horrendously vicious people, or just plain mean. I think I need to have someone to connect with in a book, someone to really enjoy reading in order to love a story, and I didn't really find that here. There were brief moments when I thought Rand's dad was going to be the redeeming character of the story, but then he failed me. Just as Rand did, just as Delaney did and Essence, Rand's ex-best friend, did, and just as Kamran, Rand's ex-boyfriend and father of the soon-to-be baby, did. The only person that seemed good in any way, was Shelley, Rand's boss; and maybe Andre, Xanda's boyfriend and the person her mom blames for the death. Holly Cupala's debut novel is a raw and emotional journey of a high school senior dealing with pregnancy, but really, it's about a dysfunctional family dealing with a death that they choose not to acknowledge. And while I didn't love Tell Me a Secret, it is nonetheless a seemingly realistic portrayal of teenage pregnancy in the midst of a world crashing down. Other reviewers have shown outpourings of love for this book, so it obviously appeals to many, it just wasn't for me. Opening line: It's tough, living in the shadow of a dead girl. ~ pg. 1 Favorite lines: "Life is constantly weaving together, and we can look back and see all of the threads. . .We don't always know why things happen until down the road." ~ pg. 251
La_Femme_Readers More than 1 year ago
Tell Me A Secret was a dynamic debut with an emotional, heart-wrenching storyline. Holly's writing provided substance and meaning behind actual, real life issues. Named Miranda as a baby, but known as Rand in her teens was a complex and lost soul. Ever since her sister Xanda passed away, everything turned into shambles. At first, her intelligence and artistic talent was impressive. But, instead of trying to move on, she continued to have her sister's unknown death suck away her existence. Rand wasn't the only one effected by Xanda, her parents grew apart which caused a rift in the family. Her mother dreamed Rand would be nothing like Xanda. In contrast, Rand held a secret that would stand disastrous in her mother's eyes, she was pregnant. The whole journey through Rand's pregnancy was a chaotic roller coaster ride. Kamran, the baby's father wasn't around, while her friends, especially Delaney were turning on her. Ugh, let me not get started on Delaney, she was one evil, backstabbing witch. Overall, the supportive system she needed was lacking. I felt so bad for her until an unexpected person wrapped love and comfort during the hospital scenes. The chapters where Rand was giving birth was beautifully written. Holly created a raw, vulnerable moment that a non-mother could feel. Lexi, like so many other babies, helped Rand understand herself better and gave her a reason to breathe. Also, the element of her sister's revealed death was eye opening. The unexpected and interchanging lives of everyone in this novel was uniquely crafted. I can't stress enough how moving and deeply inspirational Tell Me A Secret was. I am thrilled to see Holly's future mark in the YA industry, her sheer creativity will prove advantageous in her works. This debut not only will attract to teens but adults as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
"Tell me a secret" are some of the last words that Miranda (aka Rand) will hear from her older sister, Xanda (Alexandra). Rand's sister was killed in a car accident. Rand has always been told that Xanda's boyfriend, Andre, was at fault. Like everything in Rand's life, she accepts that at face value and is the good daughter. Xanda was the wild one, running around and dressing provocatively. Things change for Rand when Delaney enters her life. Delaney livens things up for Rand and the two are soon inseparable. Rand meets Kamran Ziyal and has her first boyfriend. She also starts to distance herself from her long-time friend, Essence...mainly because Delaney doesn't like Essence and constantly puts her down. The summer before senior year is when everything changes. Delaney was supposed to go to Amsterdam. Kamran was to be working two jobs and taking classes to help him get into a good school. And Miranda is off to be a counselor at a church camp. When Rand gets home, she can tell something isn't quite right. And to make matters worse, once she gets home from camp, she can no longer put off the frightening fact that she is pregnant. As Miranda tries to get time alone with Karman to discuss the situation, Delaney is constantly there. Through this difficult time, Rand finds herself running into Andre. Now, not only does she have to face the pregnancy, she has to face the truth of Xanda's death. TELL ME A SECRET is a difficult story about falling in love, being betrayed, and facing hard truths. Ms. Cupala writes a brutally honest story that can frustrate and anger the reader, making them side with Miranda through it all and hoping that she manages to come out okay in the end.
mrdarcy3 More than 1 year ago
Rand's sister died in a car accident years ago. She's never really moved past her sister's death. Instead, she's unconsciously following in her sister's footsteps. She's at camp when she realizes she might be pregnant. After she takes the test, she still can't believe the truth. Rand turns the her boyfriend, whom she hasn't talk to most of the summer, but he's not there. He's starting to avoid her. Rand tells her secret to her two friends, still believing that everything will turn out just fine. She'll get married earlier than planned and they will survive. That's not the case. Soon she's without a boyfriend and her two friends. She's a social outcast. She's a stranger within her own house. Rand knows that she's keeping the baby. She doesn't know how everything will work out or even if it will anymore. All she knows is that she's not giving up or giving in. My Thoughts: WOW! An amazing debut novel. This book is very powerful. I spent half the morning crying over it. It's sad and uplifting at the same time. An amazing tale our a girl trying to life in her sister's shadow but also trying desperately to find herself and her own path in life. I can't wait to see what Holly comes up with next!
CleverlyInked More than 1 year ago
Tell Me a Secret is one book that may have a secret but shouldn't be kept a secret. Tragedy is no secret in Miranda's life. She longs for the essential emotions that parents should provide for their children. So many secrets so many lives touched all because materialism and making sure your appearance is picture perfect. Miranda was self-efficient yet she was unable to help herself in so many ways. Things are said to happen for a reason and in Miranda's case Life happens for a wonderful reason. That life is Lexi her child she fights for courageously. How many obstacle would you go through to prove your worth of that picture perfect life? I have never loved to hate a character so much until I read Delaney's character. I would love to read more about her. She is a chameleon of deceptions that will eat her alive in the end. I had this yearning to smack Kamran and tell him to wake up and be man, but he isn't he is a freaked out and scared teen. His character made the book that much more emotional and passionate. Desperation, longing and a chance to be whole makes Tell Me a Secret a book you will never forget. I know all families have secrets. They can make you or break you. Holly Cupala has created intoxicatingly real story that will soar right to your heart. Tell Me a Secret is one of the must reads of 2010. I loved TMAS!!
Cariblogs More than 1 year ago
Tell me a Secret is the story of Miranda, a teenage girl whose life dramatically changes after the death of her older sister Xanda. Miranda's life spirals out of control without much of a support system. In the darkest moments of her life she finds a reason to be strong. Tell me a Secret will pull at your heart and make you want to hug Miranda. Miranda always saw her sister Xanda as larger than life. Xanda gave Miranda a nickname of Rand, because it has an edgy ring to it. Xanda was the wild child! She dressed provocatively and would sneek out to meet her boyfriend whom her parents would never approve of. When Xanda did come home she would always smell of cigarettes and alcohol. One of Miranda's last memories of her sister is sneaking into Xanda's room to try on one of her dresses. Xanda catches her, but instead of throwing her out she finds it amusing. Miranda tells her sister she has a secret and Xanda promises to share one with her. Miranda finally tells her that she wants to be just like her. Xanda never shared her secret because she died shortly after. Miranda's passion in life is drawing and she hopes to make it a career. After her sister's dead she was determined to be Rand. At the same time Delany, a new transfer student comes to town and quickly becomes Rand's friend. Delaney is similar to Xanda and Rand is instantly drawn to her. Rand also meets Kamran a very cute guy who understand her art. Rand seems to be getting a new life all her own inspired by Xanda. During the summer Rand goes to camp and comes back with her own secret. She tries to find comfort in Delaney and Kamran but instead finds herself alone. Living with her parents after Xanda died felt empty and void of all life. Little does she know that the days of her parents yelling about disappointment are back when they find out that Rand is pregnant. Her mother gives her one choice and Rand choosing not to follow that path leaves her completely alone. A teenage girl who goes from being lost to becoming a mother is not an easy journey, but one that happens so often in real life. Fans of Sarah Dessen will fall in love with Tell me a Secret! I recommend this to mother and daughter duos because there is so much to learn from this book. Holly Cupala is a first time author and did a remarkable job in telling this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReadingAngel002 More than 1 year ago
This was such a heart-wrenching story. Rand is such a fantastic character. She swept me into her world and wouldn't let me go until I devoured every last page. She's strong and vulnerable at the same time. She's not sure who she truly is, trying to act like her dead sister in order to feel closer to her, she begins to lose the parts of herself that make her, her. When she finds out that she's pregnant, she tries to deny it, until it gets to the point where that becomes impossible. She finally tells 2 friends in confidence, only to be overheard, and before she has a chance to break the news to her boyfriend or her parents, someone else has done it for her. Everyone is in a rage after finding out the way they did, and poor Rand is left to deal with it all on her own. This story was really touching for me, teen pregnancy is a tough subject to broach and Holly Cupala did this with such grace and style. I myself was pregnant at 17, I wasn't treated as harshly as Rand was, but it's a tough thing to go through. I felt her pain and mine all over again as I watched her friends suddenly abandon her. I cried like a baby through some of the more emotional scenes. This was just a story that ate it's way right through to my heart. There was also alot of great supporting characters, Xanda, the sister who died, felt like a real character as you learn the secrets of what really happened to her. Rand's Dad, who can never stand up to her Mom, and blames himself for his daughters death. Rand's Mom, who is harsh and judgmental. The boyfriend, who's confused and scared, and is getting fed alot of false information. The friends, Delaney, who turns out to not really be a friend at all. Essense, who was the former best friend, but turns out to be a better friend than she expected. And my favorite character of all, Shelly, who is Rand's boss at work, and really takes her under her wing. The situations that Shelly has been through reminded me alot of a friend I had when I was pregnant. We were pregnant at the same time, and experienced all of the crazy firsts that go along with that at about the same time. What happens to Shelly happened to her as well, and I was so touched by her character and strength. I just have to thank Holly Cupala for such a wonderful story that I will be thinking of for a long time to come. I recommend this read to anyone and everyone!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pagese More than 1 year ago
I'm beginning to collect a list of must reads for teens and their parents. I think this would be one of them. While I do think its a fantastic read for teens, I think it's also a great example for parents. Everything the parents did (well maybe up until the end) would be prime example of what not to do when you either lose a child or your teen comes to you with the news that they are pregnant. The mother made me cringe every time she came up with a new idea. It was amazing that Miranda had the strength to do what she did. She had absolutely no support at home. Even going as far to having to go to the doctor by herself. Not that her home life was much better before she found out she was pregnant. Her social life was also completely shattered by her so called friends. It was amazing to watch her discover who she really was in this journey. And in doing so, I think she came to terms with her sisters death. In the end, I think she may have been able to help her family piece a little bit of their life back together. The only part the bothered me a little was after the baby was born. I found it hard to believe that the hospital would allow her to stay for 3 weeks and then basically live in the hospital for another 2 months or so without being noticed except by the occasional guard. On a side note, the target audience won't get much out of the reference to the BabyCenter birth boards. But, as an adult with 2 children, I spent lots of time on those very same birth boards. I found it touching that the author was able to work that into the story. I understand how important those online friendships can be!